NCAA & NJCAA Outdoor National Athletes of the Week (April 18)
NEW ORLEANS – Collegiate outdoor records were set once again, as were some all-time top-10 divisional marks.
The collegiate outdoor track & field season keeps getting better and we’re not complaining.
Here are 10 athletes who stood out from their peers this past weekend and were named National Athletes of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) on Tuesday.
- NCAA Division I Men – Josh Kerr, New Mexico
- NCAA Division I Women – Raevyn Rogers, Oregon
- NCAA Division II Men – Vincent Kiprop, Missouri Southern
- NCAA Division II Women – Carsyn Koch, Cedarville
- NCAA Division III Men – Matt Molinaro, Ohio Northern
- NCAA Division III Women – Emily Richards, Ohio Northern
- NJCAA Division I Men – Elias Gedyon, Trinidad State JC
- NJCAA Division I Women – Latavia Coombs, New Mexico JC
- NJCAA Division III Men – Malik John, Kingsborough CC
- NJCAA Division III Women – Keziann Jones, Kingsborough CC
National Athlete of the Week is an award selected and presented by the USTFCCCA Communications Staff at the beginning of each week to 10 collegiate outdoor track & field athletes (male and female for each of the three NCAA divisions and the two in NJCAA).
Nominations are open to the public. Coaches and sports information directors are encouraged to nominate their student-athletes; as are student-athletes, their families and friends, and fans of their programs.
The award seeks to highlight not only the very best times, marks and scores on a week-to-week basis, but also performances that were significant on the national landscape and/or the latest in a series of strong outings. Quality of competition, suspenseful finishes and other factors will also play a role in the decision.
Before this past weekend only five men in collegiate history have gone sub-3:36 over 1500 meters during a collegiate season: Sydney Maree, Kyle Merber, Abdi Bile, Brian Hyde and Joe Falcon. It’s time to add one more name to that list: Josh Kerr.
The 2017 NCAA DI indoor mile champ opened his outdoor season in a big way this past weekend at the Bryan Clay Invitational in Azusa, California. Running against a stacked field in the elite section of the 1500, Kerr won by nearly two seconds over Ole Miss’ Craig Engels and a number of other top collegians and professionals.
Kerr crossed the finish line in 3:35.99, which is good enough for 6th best in collegiate history. His time also gave him the world lead and hit a qualifying standard for the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London this summer.
Raevyn Rogers came close to breaking Suzy Favor’s collegiate record in the 800 meters two years ago as a freshman at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Rogers ran 1:59.71, compared to Favor’s time of 1:59.11.
So it was only a matter of time until she finally did knock Favor off her perch.
That happened this past weekend at the Mt. SAC Relays when Rogers clocked a time of 1:59.10 to win the elite section of the 800. Rogers and 2014 The Bowerman Award winner Laura Roesler dueled down the final 100 meters and ultimately it was the current Duck who got the win.
Rogers now owns two of the top-6 times in collegiate history (1st and 6th).
Vincent Kiprop proved that level of competition doesn’t always matter.
The product from Missouri Southern absolutely destroyed the competition in the 10000 meters at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays, running a 28:19.94 to claim victory in the invitational elite section that saw over 60 competitors, most of whom hailed from NCAA Division I programs. Kiprop won the race by over 11 seconds.
The Kenyan’s time was tops in the country by any competitor this past weekend, while setting the top mark in NCAA Division II on the year that doubles as an NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying mark. Furthermore, Kiprop’s time stands as the 7th-fastest finish in the event in NCAA Division II outdoor history.
Carsyn Koch is already in the NCAA Division II outdoor record book for her past performances in the 800 meters, but after her outing this past weekend, she added her name in another spot.
The junior from Washburn, Maine, ran a season-leading 4:12.19 in the 1500 meters at the esteemed Bryan Clay Invitational. Her time – an NCAA Division II Automatic Qualifying mark, as well as the best in the nation from this past weekend – places her in 2nd all-time in the NCAA Division II record book.
Koch wasn’t done with just that race, though. The Cedarville product also put together a time of 2:06.36 in the 800 meters at the Mt. SAC Relays in the same race that saw Raevyn Rogers break the collegiate record. Koch’s time in that event is the 2nd-fastest in NCAA Division II this year.
Sterling Heights, Michigan
What’s better than running one 800 under 1:50?
Try two on consecutive days at two different meets.
Matt Molinaro doubled up this past weekend in California and got a PR to show for it.
On Friday Molinaro competed at the Mt. SAC Relays and finished 4th overall in his section as well as in the open/collegiate portion. Molinaro tied the NCAA DIII-leading mark of 1:49.30 in the process.
The following day Molinaro competed at The Beach Invite hosted by Long Beach State and placed 3rd overall in 1:48.92. That established a new PR for Molinaro, put him atop the NCAA DIII leaderboard for the 2017 season and narrowly missed the NCAA DIII all-time top-10.
There are strong weekends.
Then there is what Emily Richards did this past weekend in California.
On Friday, Richards won the top collegiate section of the 800 at the Mt. SAC Relays and broke Christy Cazzola’s NCAA DIII record in the process. Richards crossed the finish line in 2:02.34, which shattered Cazzola’s old standard of 2:03.45.
Then on Saturday, Richards competed at The Beach Invite hosted by Long Beach State. Richards ran in the top 1500 section against several NCAA DI athletes as well as unattached competitors and won the section with a time of 4:21.19. That put Richards 6th all-time in NCAA DIII history.
Los Angeles, California
Elias Gedyon had a strong showing for Trinidad State JC at the Bryan Clay Invitational and the Beach Invitational.
Gedyon notched the NJCAA Division I’s top time in the 1500 meters at the Bryan Clay Invite on Thursday with a time of 3:45.25 before turning around and running a 1:52.85 in the 800 meters at the Beach Invitational the next day. The sophomore’s time in the 800 meters marks the 2nd-fastest time in NJCAA Division I this season.
St. Catherine, Jamaica
Oh, hello again, Latavia.
Coombs picks up her 2nd-straight National Athlete of the Week honor, and rightfully so. This past weekend, the native of St. Catherine, Jamaica, was one of the best athletes in track & field across the whole country.
At the NMJC Ross Black Open, Coombs posted the NJCAA Division I’s top marks on the year in both the long jump and triple jump. In the latter of the two events, Coombs’ best leap of 13.56m (44-6) was good for the 3rd-best mark in all of collegiate track & field this past weekend, as well as just over 8 inches short of the NCAA Division I leading mark that was also set last weekend. Coombs also posted a 6.26m (20-6½) mark in the long jump. Both marks were new collegiate personal bests for the sophomore.
Brooklyn, New York
Malik John was solid for the Kingsborough CC Wave at the Gamecock Invitational, posting 2 top-5 finishes in NJCAA Division III on the season.
John notched a 21.59 in the 200 meters, literally tying with his teammate Mauriel Carty at the same race, for the top mark in NJCAA Division III this year. At the same meet, John ran a 10.94 in the 100 meters, which ranks 4th in the NJCAA Division III so far this season.
Brooklyn, New York
Keziann Jones really set herself apart from the competition at the Osprey Open and Multi Meet last weekend.
The native of Brooklyn, New York, recorded a hammer throw of 47.05m (154-4) that sits atop the NJCAA Division III descending order list. Not only is it the best throw in the division on the year, but it’s a good 39 feet further than the nearest competitor on the year.
Her throw also allowed her to capture the event title in Pomona, New Jersey.